Earlier this year we finally moved into new premises. Just a stones throw from our previous spot, we are now located in the tranquility and security of the Ashley Park gated estate in Walton on Thames, 5 minutes from the A3 / M25 and under 30 minutes to Heathrow and central London. The demo room was given a swift makeover and is now chock full as you can imagine. It begins life at a fairly respectable starting size but early 2018 we expect to begin works to increase its dimensions by a further 150 square feet. As ever, Lotus Customers are always welcome to stop by for a chat, a listen, to borrow some equipment or just some good old friendly advice.
After extensive trials and some very impressive experiences in my demo room I have added Alluxity to the Lotus Portfolio. Alluxity is the brainchild of Alexander Morgensen, son of Hans Ole Vitus and is manufactured under the same roof as Vitus Audio.
Given our huge success with this Danish brand over the last 4 years Alluxity was always a natural choice for us and coming from the Vitus family one would only expect the highest levels of sound, build quality, craftsmanship and reliability. What you might not expect however is a product that’s also very different from it’s older relative.
Here we have a young refreshing take on Audio equipment; very compact stylish units with elegant minimalist design, simple 2 and 3 box systems with minimal clutter and enjoyed completely through foolproof touchscreen interfaces and tablet/smartphone control. Added to that we have some very useful pricepoints which sit substantially below those of Vitus senior. And then there’s the sound, again very much Alexander’s own viewpoint and something quite different. Tube lovers who no longer want the hassle of valves will be enthralled as will people who are easily turned off by this industry’s incessant chase for more and more resolution and detail. Moreover, customers who just want to press play and be immersed in beautifully fluid, soulful music that blossoms forth into the room will be handsomely rewarded.
Of particular interest in the range, the integrated amp is an amazing perfromer at just £6900 and a very credible alternative to the £10,000 Vitus RI-100. The £8900 Media One Streamer/DAC is also a fabulous one box solution for digital music especially for people who are understandably put off by technology and having to buy a huge stack of separate streamers, DAC’s and NAS drives just to play music.
At the Munich Highend Exhibition in May this year Alluxity had a great display on show. They have been busy working on a set of new mono amps which were playing in the system and were also showing off some casework developments including a very attractive shade of bronze.
In the last 12 months Tidal Audio seem to have thundered fairly conspicously into top gear. New premium sized factory demonstration facilities in Cologne, a whole host of exciting new product launches, a big presence at the Munich Highend 2017 exhibition, a cascade of product and show awards from the magazines and online reviewers, vastly increased levels of traction around the world and unprecedented levels of reciprocal company investment back at HQ. Tidal is in the moment, right in the midst of their very own Golden Age.
Back in little old England Tidal has been making similarly large waves in its first year but moving into year 2 we confidently expect the brand to follow exactly what we have done with Vitus Audio, growing and flourishing exponentially and reaching ever more homes in the UK, literally taking people’s breath away with what it can do and how it makes you feel when you see and touch it in the flesh.
At the Munich Highend exhibition in May this year, Jörn, Miriam and all the gang from the factory put in a gigantic effort, showing a state of the art system featuring the unique La Assoluta floorstanders. Seemingly limitless bandwidth, effortless dynamic power and the very highest levels of expression, the Tidal system was as liquid and invisible as one could wish for and drew the crowds 24/7 over the whole 5 days.
Fronting this £750,000 system was the first of 3 new products from Tidal, the CAMIRA dmc DAC. Now Tidal are known for making some of the finest loudspeakers and the electronics have since gone on to establish an equivalent reputation but this new DAC might just be one of the very best things they have ever produced. Higher performing that the outgoing £37,000 Camira but far less in price, Tidal have instigated a powerful piece of marketing with their keen pricing and we are sure that this new DAC will lure many newcomers into the brand over the next few years and make many really sit up and take notice.
During development the factory compared the DMC back to many competitors from the likes of Trinity, MSB, Vivaldi etc. and the simple truth is that this DAC could or rather should be double its asking price. Straight after Munich we were lucky enough to secure a 2 week loan of the show’s prototype unit and from 2 fairly quick demos we made 2 very easy sales. Sadly that unit has been returned now but our actual permanent UK demo should be with us sometime in July.
Also at Munich Tidal launched the new Ferios mono block amps and these again were employed to great effect in the Munich system. Pricing was also announced on the finalised suite of Tidal cables, everything from power cords to USB and SPDIF cables and we hope to have our full suite of demo examples with us in the UK very soon.
At Munich this year Vitus had a lower key room but the sound was nothing other than top draw showcasing the newly updated SM-103 full size mono amps and Masterpiece digital and preamplification. Elsewhere in the exhibition they had adverts running all the way down staircases and even full coverage on some of the lift doors so their overall industry presence was strongly felt.
Over the Munich weekend we had meetings with Vitus and the key points discussed were the new SD-025 DAC and the up and coming SIA-030 Integrated amplifier. The former is a much requested “transport-less” version of the venerable SCD-025. This pure DAC edition is very welcome for customers who have no desire to spin discs. Pricing will be the same and Vitus will install a few more choice electronic components inside in lieu of the CD transport.
Whilst the SD-025 is available to order as of now, the much awaited SIA-030 should make its debut in Quarter 4 of this year. The ’30’ will represent a supercharged SIA-025; it won’t replace the best selling SIA-025 of course but simply exist above it and bridge the somewhat large financial gap between SIA-025 and SL-103/SS-103 separates. We anticipate the chassis to be RI-100 height but of course Signature class casework with greater Class A output inside, some trickle down technology from the SL-103 linestage and the provision for a signature class DAC module (in much the same vein as the RI-100 DAC module). For Lotus the SIA-030 is a dream come true and I couldn’t have wished for a more suitable product for the marketplace right now. Not only will it represent a fantastic upgrade opportunity for existing RI and SIA customers but it will neatly fill the void just below the Vitus pre and power combinations and fully resonate with todays demand for highend single box units that just need a set of speakers. The world’s best integrated amp is about to take another quantum leap.
The final point to mention on Vitus is that UK customers moving to the brand from Naim Audio systems (and Linn to a lesser extent) have shown no let up. In the first 3 months of 2017 I had no less than x6 Nac 552 traded in as part exchange and most pleasing of all for me is just how satisfied and grateful these customers are after making the switch. To help bolster online research for this well trodden path in March this year I followed up my Naim to Vitus article with a new Linn/Naim to VITUS FAQ blog and this is well worth a read if you are scratching your head over the daunting task of changing an entire system.
Regular customers will know just how popular Highfidelity Cables are and we supply a great deal of their product to compliment our electronics and systems. This year they launched a new entry “Reveal” line and it’s been going great guns so far with a superb performance/£ ratio, offering a level of transparency and freedom from distortion that was previously enjoyed by their much more expensive CT1 siblings. Whilst TelluriumQ remains our choice at lower prices the Reveal RCA at £799, XLR and 1m speaker cables at £999 bring highend wire performance at a much lower cost than we were able to offer previously.
Solid state sales dominate at Lotus but I have to say this is only because of brands like Vitus and Tidal which do not actually sound like solid state and possess all the very best qualities of the best tube amps. Historically I am a valve amp aficionado and Allnic is a company who I love representing and working with.
For 2017 they have developed some great new product. First up is the 25th Anniversary edition of the popular T2000 Integrated amplifier. Now the £7500 T2000 has always been a good seller here at Lotus. We had Kevin Fiske review it last year for Hifiwigwam and he pretty much fell in love with it there and then and customers have been especially enjoying it shod with the new KT150 tube. Well the 25th Anniversary model is Kang Su’s latest rework. It comes shipped with the Kt150 power tube as standard and now sports 100 watts per channel. It is encased in the new style Allnic chassis with re-profiled curvaceous handles, new chimney end caps, a new transformer plate and the new Allnic fascia logo.
The L7000 linestage represents a further evolution of the L3000 after 7 years of steady improvement. It has a new look, uses DHT 300B tubes as regulators, improved transformers, cosmetic changes that include handles on the face plate, a new volume control, two sets of XLR outputs and greatly improved performance.
The L3000 was no slouch and always performed amazingly for a sub £10,000 preamp but the L7000 is everything and more with greatly improved resolution, extended bandwidth in the highs, more transparent top to bottom, improved signal to noise and better dynamics. With no voice of its own it is virtually silent, except for the music emanating from the blackest of backgrounds. UK pricing to be announced soon.
Last but not least Kang Su Park has updated the legendary H3000 phono stage. The H7000 now takes things to new heights with a dedicated solid state input for very low output Moving Coils to ensure the quietest, lowest noise performance possible. We should have the first UK demo very soon.
With the new premises established my next plan for Lotus is to expand our Turntable range. Whilst we do superb steady business with the fantastic range of decks from Brinkmann (we have the new Spyder on demo now), it was always my intention to grow the Vinyl side of things and one day offer an unprecedented range of highend decks giving the customer a buying experience which he might not perhaps find anywhere else in the UK.
Very shortly we will announce a superb new Turntable to the Lotus stable and then soon after that, a further two decks from a different company and one of these will be the flagship at Lotus and is without question one of the highest performing decks we’ve seen for sale over the last 10 years anywhere in the world. As an analogue guy I am really excited about these new products and can’t wait to share them with you. In 2018 we will bolster the Turntable catalogue even further and in the demo room, alongside direct drive and belt drive Brinkmann’s you will be able to sample 5 or 6 of the greatest decks available today, some of which will be exclusive to Lotus Hifi.
I must stress than none of these record players will be the commonly available premium decks already seen in UK shores (many of which I am afraid I do not really rate); as ever i will be bringing you something new and products which whilst expensive, offer incredible value for money relative to the rest of the marketplace. Customers who have purchased items like Avalon Ideas, Vitus SIA’s and RI100’s, Allnic H1201’s, Tidal Preos/Impulse and Brinkmann Bardos to name just a few, will know just how value packed and giant killing these gems are and this is fundamental to our philosophy so you can expect the same from any new record decks as well.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and thanks again for your continued support and custom. As you know the phone and inbox never really shut down here so if you have any queries no matter how small, or if we can help you in any way shape or form, don’t hesitate to get in touch.